ISAIAH 61:1-4

ISAIAH 61:1-4

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed me to
Preach the good news to the poor. .
Bind up the brokenhearted,
Proclaim freedom for the captives,
Proclaim release from darkness for the prisoners,
Comfort all who mourn
Provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them
The oil of gladness for mourning
And a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008


The Tree

The mantle

The Santa Collection

The mess

Cover pictures over mantle with gold foil
Find lights and garland to go over windows in living room
Set up Nativity
Clean up!!

My goal was to finish...but I did fairly well for one day's work.

Pastor Phylis

THANKSGIVINGWaiting patiently, or not!

Definitely, no one was waiting

And later that day with all the cousin...third cousins if I count correctly.
(These are grandchildren of first cousins, that makes it third??)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ministry and Teaching

In class last night we were asked to make a timeline of our personal bilinguality. It occurred to me later that the first time I taught a class in Spanish, I could barely speak. It was a Sunday School class in the jungle city of Santo Domingo de los Colorados. There had been no class for the littlest ones, only for older kids. So I decided to start a class for pre-school. I probably had a few first graders as well.

First, the church met in a storefront building that opened by a metal pull-up door (garage style) right onto the main street of town. The older children met out back in the patio area.

The only place for the young ones was a dark room off to the side that was intended as an office, if the space ever became a store. It was tiny, lit by only one 40-watt bulb. The walls were concrete block, unpainted. The floors were unfinished cement.

In this dank, dim prison-like room, I added a straw mat for the floor. I also purchased some small plastic toys, cars and other vehicles mostly along with a few other odds and ends all of which made the “Happy Meal” type toy look like something from FAO Schwartz. And like every good Sunday School teacher, I always brought cookies.

Word got around through the neighborhood that if you came to listen to the story there would be toys to play with and cookies to eat. So in addition to my own two boys and a couple of little ones of the church members, the neighborhood little ones began showing up. They were dusty and bedraggled, but arrived ready to sit and listen long enough to get a cookie and play for awhile

All week I would struggle with the lesson, looking up words in Spanish that I would need. When it was Israel and the wall of Jerico, I could not remember the word “muro,” so I ended up using “pared” – which is an inside wall. Really “muralla” would have been better for a wall around the city. And those are the things that I remember. The errors I KNEW I made. Lord knows what I really said.

But as they sat there for a few minutes with their little eyes wide open listening to this crazy gringa woman who let them play with toys and eat cookies, I realize that it wasn’t what I SAID that reached them. I so badly wanted them to remember that Jesus loves them.

And now, looking back 35 years, I wonder. Did any of it take? Did they get it? What do they remember about the crazy gringa woman who gave them cookies, let them play with toys and talked bad Spanish? Is that all? Or do they sometimes realize that there is a God who loves them and wants to relate personally? All I can do is wonder.

Pastor Phylis

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Christmas Angels

Someone emailed me recently about Christmas angels and I began to think. We've had a few Christmas Angels through the years.

About twenty years ago, it had been a difficult year when on a Saturday morning in December when the doorbell rang. A man stood there, not anyone I recognized. When I answered he handed me an envelope.

"A few years ago I was really hard up," he said. "I came by and your husband helped me. I'm doing well now so I thought I'd come and pay it back." And he handed me the envelope.

I said "Thank you." And afer he left, I opened the envelope. It held five tweny dollar bills. I was so relieved. That was enough to get presents for the boys and food for the meal.

This year there have also been several miraculous answers to need. Mostly it's not something that I can talk about. But the church is getting new gutters, just because one individual said he'd buy the materials and another (who isn't even a member here) volunteered to do the labor. There have been several of those lately.

God's blessing always arrive just in time. 

Pastor Phylis

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

I ran across this quote out in the blogosphere. I need to make it my motto.

Today I'm thankful for good health, for the power to fight off an infection, for the blessing of having availability to a doctor and medicine I can afford.

Pastor Phylis

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Danger in the Kitchen; Humor in the House

(Read with the tune of the “Dragnet” theme song in the background.)
I know how the inmates in a mental institution feel just before the take down. It happened Tuesday night. I could sense someone moving in on both sides of me. A shadow fell across the work I was doing. Innocent work with a really sharp Cutco knife.
You know, the ones that are advertised to last for a lifetime, and they do too. The scissors are demonstrated by cutting a penny in half and mine still will, even though they are about fifteen years old. This sharpness is recommended for cutting bones in half, bones of chickens and ribs of beef or pork, not fingers of people. Once I tried the knife on my finger, quite by accident. It didn’t actually cut the bone, but then I cheated and moved my finger when I felt the blade, so it didn’t have a chance, really. However, ever since that incident which took me to the emergency room in the middle of my son's 18th birthday party, the men in my family turn into lurking bodyguards whenever I pick up a sharp knife.
So I have this very sharp knife in one hand, a knife with a record. With the other hand I’m holding this little plastic gadget. I’m only cleaning out the veggie fragments from between the plastic squares on this little plastic dicer…with the sharp knife.
Just as I sense the presence of two men, one on either side, I look at my fingers in relationship to the sharp knife. And realize that they are coming to protect me from that villain of a knife. My fingers are in danger from that darn knife.
My imagination can see the men exchanging glances. You know the look, one nods at the hand holding the offending knife, the other responds with a nod in turn. Then one of them mouths, “on my count: one,”
But before he can finish, I laugh, and say, “I'd better get something not so sharp to clean this before I slice off a finger."
My son says, “Good idea mom. I think a butter knife would work better,” and backs away, while his father looks relieved and turns back to his task of wiping down the counters.
Yep. They were about to tackle that knife. Might not have been pretty!

Pastor Phylis

And today, I'm thankful for a loving husband and children. And for granddaughters who like to cuddle and read me books -- even while I'm posting a blog!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Thankfulness Entry

I’m thankful for a job that provides for basic needs; (even if it occasionally raises my stress level into the stratosphere) and that my children also have jobs.

This year, need has hit our children at school harder than usual. There are more needy children this year. Two weeks ago, my son purchased a lantern-type flashlight with extra batteries for a family here who didn’t have electricity. The little girl was unable to do her homework after the time change because by the time they had eaten and tended to the little ones, it was too dark to read and write.

Over the weekend my daughter-in-law gathered up clothing from my granddaughters that didn’t fit any longer, and I brought those to school on Monday. Along with donations from other teachers, they are sorted and stacked in a metal cabinet designed for books and school supplies in the social worker’s office. Today the social worker told this story.

Two little girls with opposite problems ended up waiting in her office at the same time. One child has been the caretaker for an alcoholic mother who is now in rehab. The child has been staying with relatives nearby, but a favorite aunt is going to take her over Thanksgiving and they will go to a mall to shop.

The other little girl is one who has been without gas and electricity for more than a month. Her mother just had a new baby. The child has come to the social worker for referrals for food and clothing as well. Both girls asked if they could peruse the clothing.

When they discover some new underwear they think is “cool” the child anticipating the mall visit begins to talk. She’s so excited that she will be in a mall. She can’t remember ever visiting a mall before. She wonders aloud what it will look like and what the stores will look like. For as long as she can remember, she and her mother have always shopped at resale shops. She wonders aloud if there will be things as cool as the stuff here, except more?

The second little girl finds a Gap logo sweatshirt that she likes. Holding it up to herself she responds that she’s never been to a mall either. She says she thinks it has nice stuff like this, but very expensive. Then she discovers a Dora blanket that she thinks would be very nice for her three-year-old brother who’s a bit jealous of the new baby.

I don’t know how the social worker kept a straight face as she told the pair to come back right after school and she’d have a bag ready for each to take home. I got teary when she told me about it, and again now.

With tears running down my face, once again I repeat:

I’m VERY thankful for a job and that my children have jobs.
And I pray: God, please help us to remember the people who REALLY need Christmas presents this Christmas.

Pastor Phylis

Sunday, September 28, 2008

On the Road with Bob & PJ

By popular demand from my readers, all three of them, I'm delving into dangerous territory...that of my memory. You do realize these RV stories are from...oh about the time of the American Civil War?

In a time long ago and a land far away, a small family of four started on an adventure. In order to get to the land where they desired to be, Ecuador, they first had to pass a series of tests set by the O.G.RE in the tower. (OrGanizational REview otherwise know as the Missions Board). Their world required that they be able to prove their ability to adapt to a new culture and climate in which m.o.n.e.y was of little import, by demonstrating their ability to collect large sums of this m.o.n.e.y. in the American culture, specifically in their Denominational (De.m.on) churches.

Our friends were young and clueless. They approached this great adventure as ... a Great Adventure. There were some wonderful days in which the people in the De.m.on were marvelously friendly and helpful. In other place, on other days the people in the de.m.on seemed, well, De.m.on.ic.

It was a friendly day when our family found themselves in a beautiful bright sunny Southern state. The normal routine for our family was: Monday was travel day, with the evening for family time or simple chores like laundry and cleaning the RV. Tuesday thru Friday,there were services every evening in which they presented the program and tried not to beg for funds. Following these evening presentations the pastor usually invited the little family for food, either at his home or at a restaurant. These meals lasted well into the night. The family would return to their little abode about midnight and spend an hour or so reading stories to the children before everyone fell asleep. Saturday was usually the same. Occasionally Saturday was also an evening off, but not often. On Sunday there was a morning presentation usually at 10 AM in one local and an evening one, maybe a hundred or two hundred miles away. On Sunday evening our little family felt fortunate if everyone was in bed by two a.m.

This particular evening, the meal had been substantial AND there had been older children to play with the little boys. Everyone was wide awake on return to the RV. The RV Park was located right next to the runway of a U.S. Air Force Base. When they returned to the RV at 1 AM, planes continued to land and take off with regularity. The bright lights from the runway made it seem like mid-day, so the children played in a sandbox beside the RV while the parents washed and cleaned the RV.

Yep. There we were at 3:00 A.M., hose in hand washing the RV. The boys were giggling happily in the sandbox. At one point I looked around and began laughing aloud.

"If anyone from child services saw us now, they'd arrest us for sure with a charge of insanity." I chortled. "Who in their right mind has their kids up at 3 AM cleaning the house?"

We laughed...and continued cleaning. Somehow we felt safe and happy there in the shadow of fighter jets taking off and landing. And then the boys decided to join us at the hose -- so it was a 3:30 A.M. bath, disguised as a water fight for all.

Just another day in the life of a nomadic family!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

(In honor of Post #500)

December 2005. I had decided to become a living liver donor. Thus, I was entering a new phase in my life. I wanted an outlet for my thoughts and a place to post news and progress to friends and family. So, I began a blog. I imagined that it would be a triumphant first few months of blogging. I could encourage more donations of organs (upon one's death) so that the kind of sacrifice I was making would not be necessary. I was to become a living liver donor.

My friend Victor Gomez had been diagnosed with liver cancer. He was so far down on the recipient list that a transplant was not going to become available for him before his time ran out. I had volunteered that Spring to be a living donor for him since our blood types matched. But his half-sister from Peru had agreed to go through the testing. However, after the painful liver biopsy in March, she opted not to donate. It delayed their even looking at me as a possible donor since a family member would be a closer match. After 6 weeks of testing, 22 vials of blood drawn, a liver biopsy and every test known to man (EXCEPT a Pap Smear and Mammogram, I might add), I was accepted as a donor. At age 55 I was healthy, but certainly older than the recommended age for living donors. I didn't even tell my primary care physician. I didn't think he'd like the idea. The University promised the best of care. And in the event that my liver ever failed, I would be put at the top of the donor list.

December 29th Victor and I both checked into the Transplant ICU at a hospital in Chicago. He was ill and could barely walk. I was hale and hearty. A tad nervous, but hale and hearty nonetheless.

The next morning in adjoining operating rooms, the two of us underwent separate 14-hour surgical procedures. Two teams of surgeons; two ORs. It was expected to be 8 hours, but when they opened him up, the remaining liver was again riddled with carcenoma. They had to keep a vein and the bile duct from his liver, because a living donor can donate 2/3 of the organ, but only one of three veins and no bile duct. With a cadaver donor, all of those items are also available for transplanting.

The bile duct was a problem from the beginning. At first it was leaking. They did another surgery and repaired it. Then it infected. It never did heal. The news was both good and bad from the beginning. The transplanted liver in him pinked up and began to work. But the wretched bile duct continued problematic.

I left the hospital after a week. I believed I'd be back at work in a month. It took almost two, and then I only returned because I was out of sick days and couldn't afford not to return. Mostly I was tired and weary. I returned to work February 21st.

For Victor, infection continued. His body became weaker and weaker. The last two week, they didn't bother closing the surgical incision. Daily procedures were done to try to combat the infection and entice his declining system to fight for health.

He was valiant to the end. The last week, each time I saw him tears ran down his face, and he'd whisper, "I'm sorry." I didn't understand at first. I kept reassuring him that I was fine, that he could make it.

But eventually I got it. He realized that his time was at an end and he was apologizing for the sacrifice that I had made. The pain he had endured was unbelievable with daily surgery and swelling of his body to the point that he could no longer speak. He was conscious, but just barely. I reassured him that it was okay to let go. The last thing I told him was to relax into the arms of God. That it would be alright. Two tear rolled down his cheek and he tried to smile. Two hours later he was gone.

That was February 22, 2006. I blogged rarely for several months. My strength did not return. I blamed it on depression. I struggled, emotionally, spiritually, physically.

Then before school started in August 2006, I decided that a mole on my left breast which had been there for years HAD to be removed. Immediately. Later my daughter-in-law said she really wondered about be because it was not characteristic of me at all.

My primary care physician said I had to have a mammogram and Pap Smear. Those were the only two test not done during December before liver surgery.

I knew right away at the mammogram that things weren't right. The technician became brighter and cheerier as the tests continued. She used every attachment there was on that wretched machine, leaving after each time to go see the radiologist. She'd come back even cheerier. And use another attachment. Finally, I had to have an ultrasound. That technician may as well have been made of stone. Absolutely no emotion of any kind marred her visage or impeded her movements.

When I got home, I sat down and tried to think. I was stunned. It was 4 pm on Friday. "I'd better make a note to call my doctor on Monday," I reminded myself. "This feel sinister."

The ringing phone interrupted my desperate attempts at reassuring myself. It was my primary care doctor. He gave me the name of a surgeon to see for a surgical biopsy and recommended that I call "Today" for the appointment.

And the whirlwind of breast cancer, mastectomy, chemotherapy, and breast reconstruction began. From August 21, 2006, the day of the mastectomy, until May 23, 2007 when the last of reconstruction was finished it was a wild run from doctor to doctor, treatment to treatment. And all of it had nothing at all to do with the mole. That was only my fixation for the feeling that something was wrong.

I blogged regularly. Blogging kept me sane. Most of the time I would simply write how I felt, what God was teaching me, or things that were happening. During the school year of 2006-2007, blogging was my regular contact with the world. I did not get out regularly except for church. Blogging was my window to the world.

So while I started blogging in order to tell a story, that story has made so many turns and twists, I barely recognize it. And that's in only three years (minus 2 months!). I keep blogging because I've made friends I want to keep in touch with; because blogging helps me keep my thoughts straight; because it reminds me where I have been and just occasionally, it points the direction in which I should go.

Here's to the next 500 blogs!!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Power of Naming

Gen 2:19
18-20 God said, "It's not good for the Man to be alone; I'll make him a helper, a companion." So God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn't find a suitable companion. The Message
I'm in an introspective mood. I've been reading notes from my journal...a mishmash of my thoughts, responses to sermons or lessons and occasionally a few notes from a sermon. I came across notes I had taken during a message preached by Timothy Vowell a few months ago. At this point I'm not sure how much is my thoughts and ideas and how much I'm lifting from his sermon. So I'll just give general credit now.

Native Americans had a custom of waiting to name a infant until the child distinguished itself in some way to merit a name. Thus names like "Runs-Swiftly", "Straight Arrow", and "Sitting Bull" were given.

Today most of us are given names by parents. Sometimes parents search diligently for just the right name; sometimes the name is whatever is in vogue at the time. However, for us to say names don't matter to us as Americans is easily refuted by any child who has been adopted or has had a stepfather. Last names imply belonging and association. Sometimes it implies social status or rank, as in Clayton Langston, III. (That name is totally fake, I hope. My memory sometimes drags things out that are inappropriate. No implication is intended other than "the third.")

Life sometimes unjustly name us, "Failure." People unjustly name us with teases, taunts and nicknames that hurt.

In Genesis 35:16, Rachel is in labor. She had wanted more from God. In her bitterness she named the child "Beoai" which means "Son of my sorrow." Jacob (the child's father) immediately said, "No. His name is "Benjamin" which means "Son of my Blessing."

Jacob knew what it meant to have an unjust name. His name meant "deceiver or supplanter." He didn't want that experience for his son. He had a choice and he changed the baby's name. God later changed Jacob's name to "Israel."

We have choices in naming things too. We were given the power of naming. We can speak things into existence. For example, is what you are facing now a "trial" or a "challenge?" Tomorrow I may have "problems" or "opportunities." You may be walking in a "valley" or it can be a "place of rest." And from the mountaintop, we have an excellent view of the world if we can get our sight and attention off of self for just a bit.

As I looked up this scripture, I realized that the part about naming is bracketed on either side by references to Adam finding a spouse. He named her "Eve" mother of all life. What have you named your spouse today? "Honey Bun" or "Doofus?" "Love" or Irritation? Hmmmm. I'm just sayin....

You have the power of naming. What will you call into existence? "Conflicts" or relationship opportunities??

Pastor Phylis

Friday, August 29, 2008


When God Speaks, I want to listen

Lately God's been bringing people from the past into my life. I'm not sure what he's saying. But I'm trying hard to listen.

Tonight, we go to our favorite little gourmet cafe for a bit of supper (Yeah, supper! It's just the farm girl in me!) and we see a man we've know for a long time. His story is one of those that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

Let's call him Jake for convenience and confidentiality. He was born second in a family of six siblings. The father was gone by the time the youngest girl was born and this man was about 8 and the oldest sister was 9. Mom struggled to feed and clothe them, but after two years, she married a harsh man with sufficient means to support her family of 6 children. The stepfather, however, didn't want the children around. They were routinely locked in a bedroom upstairs from the time they got home from school until the next morning. Six siblings from age two to age eleven, two beds, no bathroom. Usually they were fed. The oldest sister would occasionally manage to get out and go downstairs for extra food or milk for the littlest ones. If caught she was punished severely. One Chicago winter when she was about 12, she was locked out of the house in only her underwear for several hours to pay for her "crime." Jake was 13 then. He blamed himself for his sister's trauma. He cried while she shivered on the snowy doorstep, humiliated and cold because she tried to care for her little sisters. Jake became more and more reclusive, withdrawn, depressed.

One by one, the children were old enough to leave home --at age 16, 15 or 14 they each made an escape of some kind. Mostly the boys just left; the girls escaped with a boyfriend. When he was 21, Jake had a psychotic break. Life just became too much to bear. He was diagnosed as schizophrenic. I only knew him that way. Most of the time he could participate in one-on-one or small group conversations. He would lose touch with reality only when stressed, confused or embarrassed about something. Then his conversation would become disjointed and disconnected from the present. Even so, he was friendly with an air of childlike innocence that was appealing.

He's still like that. We saw him tonight eating lunch in our little diner. His mom died a few years ago and left him enough money to supplement his meager disability. He can now treat himself to a shake at a restaurant sometimes. He was happy to see us. Remembered our names, asked about our children. I had to say their names for him, but that jogged his memory enough that he asked about their wives. He even remembered our first granddaughter. He hasn't been around us since the younger one was born. We chatted with him for awhile until our food came.

My eyes filled with tears thinking of the wounds sustained in his life. He's past fifty now and mostly walks around town, lost his own thoughts. Too fragile to work or maintain a relationship, he lives alone. Has few friends. The picture of a train wreck kept coming to my mind. As though his life were a train that had somehow jumped or been pushed off the track. There, but not there, not able to move on. Just stuck beside the track as time moved by.

Then I thought of children I've seen these last three days. Some quiet and frightened, some angry and belligerent, some sullen and withdrawn. And through my tears, I prayed.

God, help us to remember that these young ones may be coming from situations that wound the spirit, numb the mind and discourage the soul. Help us as teachers to realize that with a soft word, a kind deed, a genuine smile we may help some child find the courage to continue, to stay on track. Remind us that within every little gang banger wannabe, every little drama queen, every little tough guy, every little lost child there is a Soul that is lovely to you. Give us the grace to see that too!

God help us to bring healing to young people struggling to keep afloat in a sea of difficulties.

And God...minister to the Jakes of this world.


And now I think I know what God is saying:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign L
ord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed"
ISA 61:1

Give me strength, Lord!

Pastor Phylis

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The floods came; the winds blew

Severe Thunderstorm

The civil defense horn is blowing. The sky is ominously dark, so I run outside to get photos. In the background, my husband is warning, "There's lightning out there. You're a conductor."

"No I don't conduct. I only sing." I respond cheerily.

What can I say? Where I grew up, if you wanted to know which way the storm was going, how long you had before it hit, etc., you had to go outside and look at the clouds. I still do. He's no so inclined. He thinks that's what radios and tv are for.

Meantime, it gets darker and darker. I'm trying to hold the camera still because the lens isn't getting enough light. But the flash shows nothing except the reflection of the flash off the raindrops. (Oh did I mention, it was raining?)

Finally, after this shot, I run inside. The wind is howling. I was trying to get the bend on the tree you can see very fuzzily (is that a word?) I'm guessing the winds were 40-50 mph and just before I snapped this one, the rain hit with a vengence. I mean a torrential rain driven by the fierce winds. I retreated, to my husband's satisfaction.

About 5 minutes later, the electricity goes out. We manage to light a couple of candle to give light for the roundup of every candle in the house. I also got out three oil lamps. Alas, only one had oil. (I hear a sermon coming: Don't let your oil run dry! And a song!) So today I visited the local Wal*mart and purchased a couple of bottles of lamp oil. I think that's like shutting the barn door after the horse has already escaped. But I'm ready for the next one!

After we had the candles lit, I'm trying to be productive. Aha! I have a laptop. I can finish my computer work. I fire up the laptop, have hubby take a picture. Right after this picture, I get a message, "No wireless network available." What? Oh yeah. You know, that little gizmo in my office that produces the wireless waves? It uses electricity. (I never said I was terribly bright.) So much for modern conveniences!!!

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. -Matthew 7:25 (Courtesy of MSD)

Pastor Phylis

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Spiritual Potpourri
Or Monday's Musings
Christy, Jayne, PJ, Laura

I know that God has a sense of humor. Sometimes I hear him laughing as he responds to some of my requests/complaints. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was depressed. "God I don't even have any friends," I complained. "At least not ones my own age. I always just hang out with my kids and their friends. I think I don't even have a life of my own." DIL arranged an outing...her mother, another friend and I were invited to join her for a day of shopping, lunch, etc. We laughed, ate, shopped, laughed and ate some more. At the chic little Italian Cafe, it was a wonder they didn't throw us out. We were the most raucous table at lunch...giggling over life's silliness. At one point I had a fleeting thought that maybe somebody should have brought the Depends...I laughed that hard!!! (Pictures above)

Then another friend (also my age group) was stranded here for a couple of days when returning from a trip. I spend a wonderful afternoon with her. And this week we got a call from a friend we went to Bible College with (Believe me that was a LONG time ago!) who was going to be in town. So this past weekend we spend with them.

And I could hear God smiling..."Is this enough for you, PJ? I can bring more friends here if you still have enough energy!"

"Next week, God. This is Monday. I'm tired today."

Today I finally went to my primary care Doctor to follow up on cholesterol tests made in MARCH! I knew it was high, and so is my blood pressure. I just didn't want to deal with taking more meds. So after I leave the doctor's office with samples and new prescriptions, I'm complaining. "This getting old stinks. I hate meds. Why can't I just still be healthy, God? Can't you arrange that?"

While looking for a parking place to leave a package with friend at her place of employment -- a hospital -- I keep spiraling up the parking garage. No spaces. "Come on, God. I need a parking place here!"

Then I pass some reserved ones: "For Dialysis Patients" And I hear Him smile.

"You're right, God. I'm grateful. I'm truly thankful that I don't qualify for those spots," I reply with tears streaming down my face.

I'm grateful that I haven't had either a heart attack nor a stroke while in denial about needing meds for blood pressure and cholesterol. I'm thankful that in spite of having had a liver resection and cancer in the last two and a half years, I'm fully recovered. While I may resent this business of getting old and needing medications to maintain an active life, I recognize that my active life is a Gift from God. As are my Friends!!!

And...while I'm struggling with the idea (and facts) of growing older, that too is a Gift from God.

Pastor Phylis

Sunday, August 3, 2008

When God Speaks
Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith fail not.” Luke 22:32 (PJ's paraphrased version)

God gave me that scripture several years ago when I was praying about a particular situation. Something related to the issue then has come up recently (details in a later blog) that I've been worrying about. I know that God is in charge. I know that God has my best interest at heart...but...what can I say...I've been worrying. Last night at the Zumaely concert, Pastor Alex used the scripture as he talked about God's hand guiding our lives. He spoke straight to me although he had no clue as to the situation.
Then today, another guest pastor preached directly to the same situation. His topic was: “The other Side of Faith.”
From Hebrews 11: 1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (NIV)
Then Verse 35-38 tells of those who went through terrible suffering and persecution, but in verse 39 says,
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” Hebrews 11:39 (NIV)
He hasn't promised that we will be spared suffering and tribulation. He DOES adjure us to be Faithful.

Earlier this week, I started using a new exercise DVD. At one point the instructor urged, just use your best effort on these exercises. The people you see here are advanced level instructors. Your moves may not look exactly like theirs. Work on effort and stretching the muscles. Don't worry about the result. Do the moves, focus on stretching and moving your muscles, not on doing them perfectly. 
And I'm screaming, “But I want to look like that really cute 30-something chick who looks so good in the leotard. Are you telling me that my 50-plus-year-old body will not get there?”
Oblivious of my histrionics, he continues. You're working toward good health, strength and flexibility. 
Oh, that.” I mutter. “Yeah. Good health.” exercise...and in life, I must do the exercises: maintain faith, do what I know to be right. “But I want the miracle! I want divine intervention, and I want it now!!!”

Oh, yeah. Faith. I maintain faith. I am faithful to what God has called me. The results are in His hands!"

In spite of myself, God speaks to me. He answers those nagging questions that are just thoughts. He may not answer them the way I wish ... but He answers!!” when God speaks, I really must listen.

Pastor Phylis

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Nightmares Keep Coming

I'm in class teaching and the principal comes in. I can't remember the students' names. After they leave, the principal wants to know why I don't know their names. I explain to him that I have neuropathy of the brain (I think that's called Alzheimers!!!). I tell him I don't have full feeling in my feet or my hands, and sometimes my brain forgets too. He gets mad and fires me on the spot.

To understand the ridiculousness of this, you have to know that my principal is a kind, Godly man who is not at all unreasonable or impulsive.

To understand the plausibility of this, you have to know that sometimes I can't find my keys, my phone, or my purse.

I throw my keys in the trash at fast food restaurants.

I once put my phone in the fridge.

Usually my head is set straight on my shoulders, but...

Certain mornings of the week I'm not sure I know my name.

And Tuesday night at High Point(Kids Bible study), I kept calling a little girl who was visiting by the name of the little girl who had visited on Sunday morning when I directed Hallelujah Hut (music & worship for kids). They were both tall, slender and blond. What can I say?

I know everything. I just can't remember it all at the same time.

For Recovery, and Sanity (I hope!)
Pastor Phylis

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Haiti's Child Slavery Trade!

I just finished reading this article and my heart is breaking. I was last in Haiti in Summer of 2005. After that I was ill and haven't even tried to return. I really want to go back and see what we can do, even if travel there is not recommended by the U.S. Government.

Read this story. Warning: Grab a box of Kleenex first.

The surroundings that he describes are sooo real. It's bringing back memories. I'll look for my CD of Haiti pictures and post some. To remind me and you!!

Go read here!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Feelin' Blue

Just Feelin' Blue

For whatever reason, my old depression has returned these last two days. Maybe a let down from the frenetic activity of the last month, maybe my hormones are returning (not a good thing), maybe an after taste of dealing with a reluctant-to-pay insurance company, or maybe it just is. So I'm outside getting some fresh air and sunshine (always a good thing), reading and writing.
Bob brought home a book for me from his Christian Bookstore run this afternoon. A little Max Lucado book called YOU! God's Brand-New Idea. It looks ready-made to cheer me up. At least it got me thinking about posting something beneficial.

Topic 3, "No Two Alike," says, "Knitted together is how the psalmist described the process of God making man. Not manufactured or mass-produced, but knitted. Each thread of personality tenderly intertwined. Each string of temperament deliberately selected.

"God as creator. Pensive. Excited. Inventive.

"An artist, brush on pallet, seeking the perfect shade.

"A composer, fingers on keyboard, listening for the exact chord."

"A poet, pen poised on paper, awaiting the precise word.

"The Creator, the master weaver, threading together the soul.

"Each one different. No two alike. None identical."

Since I'm feeling blue in general, this afternoon I was driving along thinking about the weight I need to lose and recalling ills and insults that have befallen me and everyone I know. I remembered an incident at a Christian College in which they had a Chanel model (recently converted, of course) come and "teach" the girls about posture and beauty. (Yep! Truth!) She started with a lecture about proportion of body part. (Un-Huh, she did) Then moved to measuring the thighs of the unfortunate girls sitting there, and commenting on each. "You'll need to lose 6 inches on that thigh" etc. Almost none came up to the standard of beauty required by her rules.

So as I'm driving, I'm rehearsing what I would have done had I been there. I'm thinking, "I'd just walk out saying 'You must be dreaming.' For sure I wouldn't sit there!"

But then I remembered the pressure that comes sitting in a group. Suppose I am the heaviest one there. Then I'd worry that they would say after I left. (I do know what it's like to be called "Thunder Thighs") Would I have the chutzpah to walk out? Today. Yes. But this happened fifteen years ago....fifteen years ago to someone else...I only heard about it from my kids. And today I'm really angry! Now that is some bad mood.

But today I'm having trouble with the idea that I am created perfectly for what I have been assigned. Today life seems to make little sense. Today I'm remembering all my failures and failings. Today I'm sure that I'm not even close to fulfilling God's purpose in me. Today.

But scripture says, "You knit me together in my mother's womb. (Psalm 139:13 NIV) He wove all of these elements together to make me who I am.

Have I messed with the design? Today, my brain says that I have messed things up so badly that there is no reparation possible. Scripture contradicts my thoughts. I know which is right.

Jeremiah 29:27 says, "I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not evil." (PJDH translation)

So even today, I trust that God did, indeed, create me with purpose for a purpose. He has a plan for my life and my feelings need to go take a hike!!!

Or sit in the sunshine and read a book! That works too.

Can you believe that God was excited, inventive, exhilarated when he made you? And, don't forget, He can see the end from the beginning. He knew what you would become and he was elated about that! Even if your thighs won't pass the litmus test for a Chanel Model.

Pastor Phylis

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

JCC Ministering in New Mexico

Las Cruces, New Mexico
Just to prove we did something besides eat.
We sang, talked and smiled for the camera!!